PTSD: Finding the Answers You Need

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PTSD: Questions and AnswersWho Is Affected by PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) is an anxiety illness that can affect anyone, even someone who was previously in good mental health.

PTSD is estimated to affect 6.8 percent of Americans (aged 18 and up) at some point in their life. The lifetime incidence of PTSD is higher in women than in men (9.7 percent for women, 3.6 percent for men), but the disorder is well-known to affect people of both genders.

Sadly, PTSD can also affect children and teens. Those who suffer abuse are especially vulnerable to the effects of PTSD.

Why Do Some People Get PTSD?

Researchers have not conclusively stated what the cause of PTSD is. Though several people may live through the same difficult experience, not all of them will go on to develop PTSD.

There are theories about brain chemistry and genetic predisposition. For example, some people may be more likely to develop PTSD than others because of the amount of certain chemicals in their brain. Also, people who have family members with anxiety-related illnesses may also be at a higher risk for developing PTSD.

What Can Lead to PTSD?

Usually, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is triggered by a particularly tragic or upsetting event. In many cases, being in a situation which poses a threat to one’s life can lead to PTSD.

Some of the most common events which trigger PTSD are being in a war or going to combat, being physically assaulted, and losing a loved one. Dealing with the illness of oneself or of one’s spouse can also be an emotionally draining experience which can contribute to the development of PTSD.

Can PTSD Be Prevented?

Recently, mental health specialists have started searching for ways to prevent people from developing PTSD. People who are known to be “high risk” for PTSD may be given preemptive treatment. Thus far, this has typically been done for people who are in various branches of the military.

Some experts have also attempted to provide therapy for  people immediately following exposure to a traumatic event. The results of preventive treatment have been quite promising so far.

How Do Mental Health Experts Treat PTSD?

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is one of the most effective means of treating PTSD (as well as a number of other mental health conditions).

Some of the types of cognitive behavioral therapy used for PTSD are cognitive therapy and exposure therapy.

In cognitive therapy, the patient is taught to carefully and analytically examine his or her thoughts. Healthy ways of coping with negative feelings after a trauma are also explored.

Exposure therapy for PTSD involves working through the emotions (e.g., fear) tied to a traumatic event. One eventually learns to view the past event calmly and without the level of angst that can affect one’s quality of life.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

AnxietyRUs February 15, 2013 at 2:48 am

I have suffered from PTSD for many years as a result of trauma I suffered during many traumatic life events. It’s been a rough road and I think it could easily have been much worse if I hadn’t sought treatment immediately. I still have episodes of flashbacks but with treatment, they have gotten much more manageable.

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Rich Presta February 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I’m glad to hear you sought help and are doing better!

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ShakeNoMore February 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Would you mind sharing the the treatment that worked for you? If not, that’s ok. If so, did it involve the cognitive and exposure therapy briefly described in the article?

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Rich Presta February 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I share everything I know in my material, but it’s way to much to summarize or do justice to in a comment 🙂

What helped me were several things, and an aspect was cognitive exposure, but not in the way I found most therapists or psychologists recommending I practice it. If you wanted to learn more about my story, you can view one of the recommended resources on this site and I explain much more on those websites.

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ShakeNoMore February 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm

A friend of mine has PTSD resulting from a rape that occurred about 10 years ago. She was only recently diagnosed since she only recently started therapy. I wish she had been able to start therapy immediately after the rape; perhaps if she had, she wouldn’t have PTSD.

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Rich Presta February 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Perhaps, perhaps not, but thankfully she’s getting help now.

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Rhonda C February 18, 2013 at 12:04 am

PTSD is a horrible thing to deal with but I also think that it’s becoming the flavor of the month. If under 7% of the population has this disorder, we should not know more than one or two people with it, at the most. I personally know at least 10 people who’ve been diagnosed with PTSD.

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Rich Presta February 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I think a condition such as PTSD will always receive more attention when there’s active military deployments like there is lately, but the increased attention and awareness is a good thing. How many people you may or may not know that struggle with PTSD is largely a matter how many vets you have on your close social circle since it effects that population so much more than the general public.

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